Batman Returns Writer Reflects on Initial Fan Backlash to Keaton Movie

The screenwriter behind Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, Daniel Waters, discusses how the 1992 film has “never been popular with true Batman fans.”

The screenwriter for Tim Burton’s Gothic superhero sequel batman returns, Daniel Waters, describes how the initial fan reaction to the film was far from positive. The second installation in Warner Bros.’ original Batman movie franchise, the movie sees the Caped Crusader (Michael Keaton) once again having to defend the citizens of Gotham against a new threat, the Penguin (Danny DeVito), who strives to get the city under his control before attempting to murder all of Gotham’s first-born sons. However, the Penguin is not the only antagonist the Dark Knight is up against, as he also has to contend with the criminal antics of Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) as she seeks vengeance against her former employer, Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). Burton’s movie set opening weekend box-office records upon release, and while it did receive criticism for being too violent and dark for a Batman film, batman returns garnered positive reviews, as well as two Oscar nominations.

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However, despite its success, Warner Bros. felt that its darker tone was inappropriate for younger audiences and believed this was the primary reason why it didn’t make as much of a profit as its predecessor, 1989’s Batman. As a result, Burton was replaced as director on the next two installments by Joel Schumacher. Keaton declined to reprise his leading role for batmanforever and batman and robin, as he disagreed with the new, more child-friendly direction the series was taking, and was replaced by Val Kilmer and George Clooney, respectively. Now, Keaton returns as Batman for the first time in 30 years in the upcoming DCEU movies batgirl and Flashboth of which follow-on directly from the events of batman returnsignoring Schumacher’s installations altogether.


Related: How Tim Burton Convinced Danny DeVito To Play The Penguin

It would appear that WB execs weren’t the only ones disappointed with the creative decisions that went into batman returns. Waters says in an interview with vulture that Burton’s brutally dark sequel has “never been popular with true Batman fans.“He even cites a friend’s take that characterizes the film as”a movie for people who hate Batman.” Read the screenwriter’s full account of the initial fan disapproval of batman returns below:

I think now — especially since the 2022 Batman came out, which I quite enjoyed — people are coming around to Batman Returns. Not that it wasn’t respected when it came out, but it’s never been popular with true Batman fans. A friend, fellow screenwriter Josh Olson, who wrote A History of Violence, has a line: “Batman Returns is a movie for people who hate Batman.” I accept that criticism.


Batman Returns Danny DeVito as The Penguin staircase

Waters’ assertion that “people are [now] coming around to Batman Returns“Thanks to the most recent movie outing for the Dark Knight certainly makes sense. There are a number of notable similarities between batman and batman returns; in particular, their three-way dynamics between Batman, Catwoman, and the Penguin, as well as their themes of mayoral campaigns and institutional corruption. Although Waters doesn’t explain what he specifically means by “true batman fans,“this usually refers to ardent readers of the comics, and the screenwriter’s acceptance of the criticism that it was”a movie for people who hate Batman“suggests he was perhaps aware of the disparities between the movie and its source material during production.


Waters’ dissection of the fan backlash of batman returns comes at a time when interest in Burton’s two DC movies appears to be reviving once again. Along with the comparisons being made between Reeves’ and Burton’s films, the huge anticipation surrounding Keaton’s Batman movie return is regenerating discussion on his first two outings of him; it may be that his second movie by him will start to find a more favorable response from “true batman fans.” However, it seems likely that the full extent of their reconsideration of batman returns‘ merits will only become clear once Keaton makes his long-overdue Batman reprisal, and interest in his previous movies reaches its peak.


More: Yes, The Batman’s Catwoman Finally Outdoes Burton’s Version

Source: Vulture

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